The importance of making end of life preparations cannot be stressed enough. Many put off making these plans thinking there is always time. The sad reality is that none of us are guaranteed time. Others may be bothered by the thought of death itself and allow this to paralyze them when it comes to making plans and getting their affairs in order for the end of life. However, most of these same people have wishes and thoughts about where and to whom their assets are distributed. Many of them also have ideas about what they do and do not wish to have happen when their life ends. Lack of preparation and planning means that these wishes likely will not be honored. In addition, it causes additional strain and stress on the people who are left to sort out the affairs. An example of this is the story of Frances.
But your work doesn’t stop there. Your will might address questions about what happens to your assets after your death, but it doesn’t do everything.
This is why you should have an estate plan that includes things such as a living will, power of attorney and health care power of attorney to ensure that you can still meet your medical and financial needs if you ever become incapacitated.
Read up on retirement planning in America, and you come across some pretty startling statistics:
- One in three Americans have no retirement savings. The same number of people say they expect to work in retirement to supplement their income
- More than 40 percent of single seniors over 65 get at least 90 percent of their income from Social Security
- Even healthy couples will pay close to $400,000 on health care in retirement
With all that in mind, it becomes painfully apparent how important it is to plan for retirement, yet it’s a process that many people aren’t even sure how to approach.
With that in mind, we’d like to suggest some questions you should ask to help start putting together your retirement plan.
When planning for your loved ones’ future, you may consider creating a trust to protect assets set aside for them. If you create a trust, you will need a reliable and trustworthy person to name as the trustee who will manage the trust. Choosing the correct trustee is an important decision because he or she will be responsible for carrying out your wishes when managing the trust.
The trustee will be responsible for duties such as managing investments, paying bills, preparing tax returns, and managing other accounts within the trust.
Before choosing a trustee, consider the following points that will help you determine who will be best suited for the role.
1. A trustee must be over the age of eighteen and capable of managing his or her own affairs successfully.
2. The trustee should be completely trustworthy and committed to the beneficiary’s best interests.
3. The trustee should be able to make sound judgments and have a strong understanding of his or her duties as the trustee. While not required, legal or financial expertise is valuable.
4. If a person is going to be the trustee of a special needs trust, knowledge of public benefits and how to avoid invalidating these benefits is beneficial.
5. The trustee should be someone who is healthy and will be able to continue managing your trust for many years to come.
6. A trustee should have the time to devote to managing your trust effectively. If the person you are considering is very busy, you should consider other candidates before making your final choice.
7. If you don’t know someone who would be a suitable trustee, consider hiring a professional trustee or institution to manage your trust. Professional trustees may include a trust company, accountant, lawyer, or investment manager or advisor. However, professional trustees or institutions do charge a fee or percentage to manage your trust.
8. Consider co-trustees if you would like to have a trusted friend or family member and a professional trustee manage your trust together.
9. Understand your family dynamics when selecting a trustee. If you are choosing a family member to be the trustee, try to avoid conflicts between family members and explain to other relatives why you have chosen a particular person to be the trustee.
10. If you make a relative or friend your trustee, decide who will be the successor in the event that the person is no longer able to manage your trust.
After you have chosen a trustee, it is advisable to reexamine your choice every few years to ensure that your trustee is still the best choice for your needs. If circumstances change, you may need to assign a different trustee who is better suited to the required responsibilities.
When most people plan for their senior years, they mostly think about a will that specifies how their assets will be distributed upon their death.
But there are other things to think about as well, such as what will happen if you have a stroke, develop a serious illness or become incapacitated?
What should you or your loved ones have in place in those circumstances?
It is extremely important to consider and plan for serious illness, not just death. While we are living longer, that doesn’t always mean we are living healthier. Stroke, complications from diabetes or osteoporosis can lead to nursing home placement. A legal plan must be established with the help of an elder law attorney when a person is healthy so that a difficult situation doesn’t become more difficult when illness or incapacitation occur.
Here are some suggestions for how you can plan ahead for serious illness:
Facing your own mortality is difficult, but don’t let the anxiety of what is to come stop you from planning for the future. The most basic part of your estate plan is a will that identifies your fiduciary or executor and what should be done with your assets after your death.
A thorough will can ensure that your assets are used and distributed to the correct people or organizations and reduce any legal and family strife.
Once you have decided to create a will, keep these five things in mind:
If your parent loses a mate, spouse or life partner, he or she may need a good deal of emotional and practical support. If you are close to your parent’s mate you may need support too. Family members, friends, neighbors and even grief groups are all good places to turn to for comfort during this time. Here are some tasks and decisions you may need to help your parent face.
Dealing with Property
In some circumstances, your parent will have to act as executor in dealing with their mate’s estate and there may be a lot to do. You may need to help with such things as sorting through their records for a will or collecting insurance and other benefits. Take it one step at time and know that there are always resources to help you and your parent out. Continue Reading How to Help When Your Parents Lose a Life Partner
Guardianship is a legal tool that grants a parent or other adult the authority to make legal decisions for a child or legally disabled adult.
There are different types of guardianship:
- Guardianship of Estate – where the guardian is responsible for financial and estate matters only
- Guardianship of Person – where the guardian is responsible for non-financial decision making
- Plenary Guardianship of Person and Estate – which entails full guardianship of person and estate
Each type of guardianship can also be in the form of limited guardianship which means the court can choose to let an incapacitated person retain any rights he/she is capable of exercising on his/her own. There is also something called co-guardianship which can be of person, estate or both when two people share the decision making responsibility equally. Continue Reading The Basics of Guardianship
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are a great tool for helping you post updates, photos, even video, so that you can keep up with friends and family. But what happens to your social media accounts when you die and you are the only one who knows the password(s)?
Most people have a plan for what to do with physical items and assets after death, but what about online accounts like social media sites and emails? What happens to them when you die? No one knows how long our online presence will last, and it is possible for someone to hijack your identity after your death based upon information they obtain online. Therefore, if you want to prevent online identity theft and have your online legacy reflect your wishes, you need to have a plan in place.